Litton and Giddings Radiological Associates, P.C. (LGRA) says its janitorial service inadvertently sent patient paper billing records to a Springfield recycling company without first shredding the documents.
"LGRA takes the privacy of our patients very seriously and has notified potentially affected patients out of an abundance of caution," said Jay Smith, business manager for LGRA, in a statement to news media. "The billing company has ensured us that its landlord and vendors are aware of the procedures for the destruction of patient records."
Litton and Giddings says there's no indication any patient information has been misused.
The company has also established a hotline where patients can find out more information: 877-615-3742.
Medical Group Informs Patients of Potential HIPAA Data Breach
Springfield, MO - October 9, 2012 - Litton and Giddings Radiological Associates, P.C. (LGRA) today announced the possibility of a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) data breach due to a miscommunication between its billing company and janitorial provider. On July 31 and August 2, 2012, the janitorial services provider at its billing company inadvertently sent patients' paper billing records to a Springfield recycling center without first shredding the records. There is no indication that any patient information has been misused.
"LGRA takes the privacy of our patients very seriously and has notified potentially affected patients out of an abundance of caution," said Jay Smith, business manager for LGRA. "The billing company has ensured us that its landlord and vendors are aware of the procedures for the destruction of patient records."
PST Services, Inc., the company that handles LGRA's billing records, is committed to patient record confidentiality and requires the shredding and destruction of records. However, on August 10, 2012 LGRA learned that a building janitor mistakenly removed documents from the locked shred bin and placed them in a different secured container with other recyclable materials. This locked container was transported to a recycling center where the items were sorted for recycling and, ultimately, completely destroyed. The recycling process is largely mechanized, but recycling facility employees do, at times, manually sort the materials.
LGRA has notified all patients who had any billing activity between July 23 and August 2, 2012 that their information may not have been properly shredded. Patients were notified by U.S. Postal Mail Service and should expect to receive their letter by Wednesday, October 10. PST Services was able to identify the specific dates when records were not properly destroyed by reviewing internal security cameras. However, PST Services cannot identify which patient information or documents were sent to the recycling facility.
While there is only a remote possibility that any patient information was accessed, LGRA and PST Services have established a patient contact hotline 1-877-615-3742 to answer patient inquiries. Patients are urged to be vigilant to the possibility of any misuse of their information by monitoring account statements, explanation of benefits received from insurers, and credit reports.